A Simple Guide into eating Healthy, Budgeting & Surviving in a busy, corporate, Mega-City

HOW TO MAXIMIZE YOUR BLENDER + Healthy Recipe Hacks

Sunday, 2 July 2017


You have this kitchen appliance that you don't really use too often but is taking up space either on your small urban-flat counter top or your precious closet space. Wherever it may be, I think this would be the perfect time to take out your new best friend. And if you don't have a blender, here are some reasons why you should have one! 





WARNING: Lots of text ahead! 


Blenders can be wonderful if you're starting out in eating clean & healthy and you're like me, leaning towards a more plant-based diet. Getting healthy is never easy and choosing a whole new variety of foods against or away from the one you've been used to for your whole life can be daunting. But there are hundreds, if not thousands of experts and bloggers all over the web that have tried, tested and remarkably changed their lives — it's all about doing something NOW and choosing healthier foods. 


JUICING VS. SMOOTHIES 


You can find dozens of debates online whether which is which and which is better for you and your health. Some people tie it down to preference but if you're really looking into cutting back on sweets and sugar, then juicing will not be the way to go. I personally believe that you need the fiber in fruit in order to fully maximize the produce you're consuming. And blending incorporates all of the goodness you're about to get into. 
Skin, Flesh, Pulp, Juice the whole package. Just make sure you're removing the seeds! Juicing removes the fiber from the fruit or vegetables you're juicing. If you're not worried about fruit juice then you might as well be drinking a cola! 



More on the Battle against SUGAR here





WHY YOU NEED A BLENDER




Image from Pixabay
1. FASTER BREAKFASTS, QUICK & HEALTHIER SOUPS

If you're in Dubai or in other majorly urban and busy city, you might belong into one of two groups of people. People who have cars and people like me, who rely primarily on public transportation. 

This would mean that you have little control of your time a.k.a your commute to work. So you probably squeeze in breakfast time with either no breakfast or some easy-to-heat pre-packaged crap that's making you fat and sick. Dubai is an amazing city of abundance and convenience and it's going to be really tempting to just stop by a convenience store just after your get off the metro for a quick yet unhealthy choice. 

Don't dive into that. 


Get smart and learn how you can make great breakfasts with just 10-15 minute including prep time. 











2. SAUCES HAVE NEVER BEEN THIS EASY AND CHEAP! 


Image from Pixabay
My blender is primarily used in blending fruits and veggies for morning smoothies but I recently came across a recipe for lentils that actually needed tomato paste. 

After returning from the grocery store and discovering that I forgot to get tomato paste, I decided to improvise with fresh bunch tomatoes and a back memory of one of Jamie Oliver's Chili Sauce how-to




Alas! from then on, I've been using my blender for sauces (with no added sugar or preservatives) and soups (with no added sodium or preservatives or any other shady ingredients you can't pronounce








3. DESSERTS DON'T HAVE TO BE SINFUL - ALL YOU NEED IS GOODNESS! 



Image from Pixabay
Fruits can save you in this area. Mind you though, everything in moderation! Once in a while, it's nice to have a treat but just make sure that it's not one too often! 


Sugar is still present in fruits so you shouldn't add too much. I usually go for the ration 2 1/2 cups veggies and 1 cup or half a cup fruit for my smoothie. 




Then I add water, greek yogurt, chia seeds or oats to really pump it up. Sometimes I put more vegetables, half a cup of fruit and half a banana to give it sweetness. No added sugar needed! If you want a dessert-feeling smoothie, just take out some coconut milk, chia seeds, and fruit. If you love berries, you can even add cocoa powder for a deeper flavor and body. We'll go into that in a separate post! 







4. YOU CAN REALLY USE IT EVERY SINGLE DAY OF YOUR LIFE! 



Image from Pixabay
It's really about getting your head around your budget and trying to analyze and understand how you can maximize a couple hundred dirhams (or less) into a more full-filling and satisfying meal plan. You can save more if you buy bulk fruits/frozen fruits than going Jamba once every two days or something.

I use my Mix & Go, every single day and it's actually come to my mind to invest on a more powerful machine sometime in the future because I think I'm over-working my blender. It's so easy to use, easy to clean, so convenient, and it takes absolutely no space at all. We'll go more into the Mix & Go I'm using on a separate post, don't worry! 











5. YOU CAN ALWAYS IMPROVISE
Resilience & the ability to adapt is a skill you will learn as you progress into living on your own and becoming an actual adult (cringe) but most of us learn about this during college days. Days of sleeplessness, too much partying and allowance pinching is actually something that makes you a stronger and a more resilient adult (haha!). Improvise

Read, watch and stalk other people who are already experts in cooking, diet and healthy foods. Take a little bit of Jamie Oliver and Gordon Ramsay and a little bit of Damn Delicious and a pinch of the Fat Kid Inside and whip up your own take on a recipe. Short on ingredients or don't have a food processor? What do you have in your kitchen or pantry that would enable this recipe to fruition? You're smart, I know you can do it! 





HOW TO ACTUALLY MAXIMIZE YOUR BLENDER


You can not only make smoothies & soups, if you’re feeling naughty, you can also whip some milkshakes or slushies. But since we’re trying to get to healthier options, we’ll ignore that part of the blender benefits.


UHH BUT BLENDING TAKES SO MUCH TIME AND FRUITS ARE SO HARD TO KEEP. LIKE, DO YOU KNOW HOW MUCH ONE PACK OF BLUEBERRIES COSTS?

IT’S NOT SO EASY…. (Insert more excuses here)


Look, if you're willing to do it, you'll find a way. As I've been emphasizing from the very first post I've made — you don't need to break the bank and cut your pockets to eat good and healthy food. You don't. All it takes is some careful planning and genuine ingenuity and you'll feel better in no time! Don't be discouraged, I'll share my secrets. 





1.     FROZEN SPINACH VS. FRESH KALE


Image from Pixabay
Most of the time these fancy green smoothies use a base green-leafy vegetable. If you're reading all the hip healthy blogs and watching celebrities and their smoothie recipes, you're in for a lot of kale and more otherworldly ingredients that not only sound expensive, they are expensive (most of the time). 










Example Green Smoothie Recipes I love: 





Buying a pack of fresh baby spinach from Carrefour with cost you roughly:



 10 - 13 AED = (USD $  2.75 -3.50) 

with 1 and 1/2 cup of Baby Spinach that won't last for more than 3 days in your fridge. However, if you will go by the frozen section, you'll soon learn the cheap gems that will keep you healthy and be spending wisely for food. Frozen Spinach could be your leafy base without the risk of spoilage before usage of your actual greens. Living in Dubai, fresh greens are not cheap and they usually don't last very long in the fridge. So you'll have to make do with the best alternative you can get your hands on. 

Lots of experts and studies suggest that frozen fruits might even be more superior than actual fresh fruits that have traveled long and far to reach your local grocery store.
Living in Dubai where almost everything is imported, an informed consumer will always be wary. But we have modern methods that allow fresh fruits, straight from harvest to be flash-frozen to preserve the key nutrients they're good for. 

Frozen Vegetables are a great alternative if you're looking into eating healthier and more veggies within a strict budget. One bag of Frozen Spinach will cost around:

8.75 AED = about (USD 2.50) 

And you get 2-4 (sometimes, more) cups of premium protein vitamins and minerals from the Spinach. And since spinach has a neutral taste, it won't overpower your smoothie and will give it a nice green colour and a packed punch of protein. 









2.     FROZEN BERRIES FOR OPTIMUM HEALTH

Image from Pixabay
Blueberries, Strawberries, Raspberries, BlackBerries — these products are quite expensive in Asia, primarily the tropical Southeast Asian regions. If you're in Dubai, which is a jewel planted in the middle of a desert, such luxuries could be double in price if you're buying from your local supermarket. 

A basket of berries from Brazil, 500 gms costs about 28- 32 AED depending on the days, stock and season.


FRESH BERRIES:  28.75 - 32.50 AED = about (USD 8 on average ) 
You get 1 1/2 cups of Fruit = approx 500gm



It's a mind-boggling choice especially if you know very well the same price can get you two slabs of chicken breasts or one bag of 3 KG White Rice. Berries are expensive. But they're one of the most nutrient-dense foods you can consume. Blueberries would be one of the best choices of foods for your brain(and many others)! 


This is where Frozen Berries come in. A cheaper but equally healthy, nutritious and satisfying alternative if you want your smoothies to be the winner of your daily meals. Frozen blueberries and frozen strawberries are my go-to choices and I usually buy 2-3 bags every 2 weeks. 


FROZEN BERRIES will cost around 8-14 AED for a big 1KG bag = about (USD 2-4 on average ) 


Now, that's smart grocery shopping. 

And they don't go bad within days. You can plan smoothies for a week or so and still have prime produce with your blends. I think that's pretty amazing and pretty simple if you really think about it. 







3.     CHIA SEEDS & SPIRULINA! Or other powdered Superfoods



Image from Pixabay
Superfoods can add wonders to your smoothies and they actually benefit your health in many ways. But things like Goji Berries, Acai Powder, Spirulina, Organic Cold-pressed Cacao powder/nibs and others can be pretty pricey. 

Either you can get them only on big tin cans on premium health stores or in smaller packagings that costs twice as much as in bulk. 

You're free to use these if you've got a little extra budget to spare but my staples would be Organic Chia Seeds & Spirulina Powder. 



You can get these babies at Carrefour (at the organic & gluten-free section) for about 

30-35 .00 AED  = around 9 $ USD

You might think this is a lot but one bag of Chia can last you up to two months. You just need a tablespoon in a day in my opinion. Let them soak in the liquid you're mixing them in so they get extra big. As for spirulina, I've had mine for about 2 months now and I'm half-way in. I use it for my green smoothies since it's a complete food source in itself. 


According to the FDA, Spirulina contains significant amounts of calcium, niacin, potassium, magnesium, B vitamins and iron. It also has essential amino acids (compounds that are the building blocks of proteins). In fact, protein makes up about 60 to 70 percent of Spirulina's dry weight. — Taken from Livescience.com 








4.     VEGGIE SOUP IS SO MUCH EASIER & BETTER


Image from Pixabay
Pumpkin Soup & Tomato Soup don't need to be expensive or loaded with preservatives and sodium when you add them to your dinner staples. I'm still exploring more and more possibilities with my blender and making soups but for now, these would be the easiest and cheapest options you can get your hands on. 

I'll share my recipes soon!







5.     DETOX WITH YOUR BLENDER

Have you heard of the Kidney Detox Smoothie with Lemon, Cucumber and Parsley? I've watched it on a flash video from Facebook and I actually fell for it. I tried it. It was unbelievable. It was cheap, easy and you actually feel better about yourself. Refreshed! Since then, it's become a routine for me to detox every two weeks or after a pig-out or eating out with friends. I'm still working on other detox recipes but for now, let this be one good reason why you need a blender and how you can maximize its benefits. 


Kidney DETOX Smoothie Recipes I love:
It shouldn't be difficult planning for your weekly meals and they shouldn't be complicated or pricey either — especially not because you're eating healthy. 

You can whip up healthy breakfast smoothies and snacks and pack them to work. It will save you time, money and it will less likely urge you to grab a coffee or a latte or a Jamba or any other thing you can quickly grab from the shelves of a store. You can consume your smoothie throughout the day and it helps you feel full. You'll crave less and you'll definitely get into the routine of not over-eating. All you have to do it invest in a couple of tools and you can eat your way through fitness and health. 


I solemnly believe that weight is first lost in the kitchen, so, journey with me as I find a better version of myself (and hopefully, you will, with yourselves) through the wonders of cooking and great food. 


Thanks for reading! 
     







2 comments on "HOW TO MAXIMIZE YOUR BLENDER + Healthy Recipe Hacks"
  1. I love multi-purpose blenders. Although I despise how much the nutri bullet makers charge for their product, I am an absolute sucker for magic bullet smoothies.

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    1. I know what you mean! I've been saving for a vitamix but I think the big high-power blenders are better? The nutri-bullets are a pain to clean as well haha! But they're convenient and you can just take it away after blending :p mixed feelings haha

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